861.01/2309: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Harriman ) to the Secretary of State

444. For the Secretary and the Under Secretary. Supplementing my number 392, February 6, Molotov gave a small lunch for the British Ambassador February 8 at which I was present. Dekanozov, Litvinov and Maisky,68 Pavlov69 and the British interpreter were also present.

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The conversation was general and informal. The Soviet reorganization of the Foreign Office was discussed but nothing new developed not covered by my cable. Molotov emphasized that the question of exchange of representation between any of the Republics and ourselves was entirely a matter for the Republics and United States to determine.

I was able to make it clear that I did not consider it would be helpful for us to be confronted with the question of receiving representatives from the Soviet Baltic Republican Governments at the present time.

Clark Kerr described to Molotov the British Library of Information in New York and emphasized the difference between this organization where information was available to any one who wished to get it and a propaganda agency. Molotov showed great interest in this conception and I had an opportunity to describe the difference in the reaction in the United States between the two methods; also that the British had learned to their advantage not to have our relations with them become involved in internal politics, and that the same principle was one that the Soviet Government would do well to bear in mind. Maisky commented that it would be easier to do the latter now that the Comintern was dissolved.

Molotov asked me whether there was any other method by which they could improve their relations with the American public. I explained that it would be helpful if there were someone in the Foreign Office to whom American newspaper men in Moscow could go for guidance similar to the practice of the British Foreign Office.

Molotov accepted this but showed greater interest in the idea of a Library of Information in the United States. In this connection I had also an opportunity to discuss Archibald MacLeish’s70 desire to exchange Russian and American literature.

Although humor is [not] improved by translation, and the discussions had a serious undertone, the luncheon was the most informal, natural and good-humored meeting with Soviet Foreign Office officials in which I have participated in Moscow. The British Ambassador and I intend to attempt to encourage similar meetings as occasion arises.

  1. Vladimir Georgiyevich Dekanozov, Maxim Maximovich Litvinov, and Ivan Mikhailovich Maisky were Assistant People’s Commissars for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
  2. Vladimir Nikolayevich Pavlov was a translator and interpreter in the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, and secretary to Molotov.
  3. Librarian of Congress.